I do not have a typical place of work. It isn’t like people surround a copy machine or a water cooler to have discussions about the latest episode of a popular TV show or to ponder the latest moves out of Washington DC. Conversations happen in hallways and classrooms and usually focus on the most ridiculous thing said that day by a kid. Occasionally, there might be discussions about having digital copies of a handout or what people are doing the next day in whatever class. Rarely is there discussion about personal lives or what people are doing over the weekend. Those types of conversations only happen if people go out for a drink after work or on those teacher work days. We just don’t have time for anything else, which is why I didn’t know what to do earlier this week when I popped into the staff lounge and had to react to an actual personal question!
As I walked into the staff lounge to heat up my coffee, I spotted a women who is a frequent substitute flipping through a magazine who glanced up when I walked in. We greeted each other with some normal small talk when the conversation takes a turn. “I heard you were a Duran Duran fan,” she said innocently enough. I literally stopped moving. I didn’t know what to say. For some reason, I felt uncomfortable, almost awkward. Why? I responded in the affirmative, hoping that this ended the conversation. Instead, she continued by telling me how much she loved them when she was in high school and how cute John Taylor was. I nodded while I watched the microwave time. She went on to say that she thought the “original” drummer was really cute, too. I could no longer keep quiet. I questioned, “Roger? Yeah, he still looks good.” This caught her attention. “The original drummer?” she wondered. Like I might respond to a student question, I explained how, yes, the original drummer, Roger, was back and had been back for over a decade. Ignoring that statement, she brought up when Simon almost drowned when the yacht capsized and asked if I remembered that. As I tried to keep up with what seemed like random memories, I nodded. As the microwave beeped, I gave a silent, “thank goodness,” as I turned to leave.
Before I could get out, she asked me about Vegas. “Oh yeah, I heard that you went to Vegas to see them. How was the show? Was it good? I know someone else who went to the show.” I couldn’t ignore the comment and told her that I did, indeed, go to Vegas and that, yes, the show was good. She repeated the question, “It was good?” At this point, I swallowed the urge to just let all things Duran in a quest to educate her and restrained myself by saying, “Yeah, they pretty much always put on a good show. I have seen a few shows.” As I left the room, I realized that I was uncomfortable the entire time. Why? What’s that about?
My first thought about why was the stigma that fans experience. Did I feel judged or that she thought less of me because I was a fan? I don’t really think that was the case. There was no judgment. If anything, she demonstrated a level of enthusiasm that I should have appreciated. Was I upset that she knew I was a Duranie? I don’t think so. After all, I have worn Duran shirts and have a Duran Duran lunch bag. I have pictures of the band on the wall by my desk so I am not hiding that fact. Was I weirded out that she was almost too enthusiastic? In many ways, she sounded like so many people who loved the band in the 80s as they find themselves back in the fandom. She definitely knew some stuff from the band’s history in the 80s.
As I try to figure out my weird reaction, I have to acknowledge that it is all on me. She didn’t do anything wrong or weird. This is all on me. So what is the deal? While I’m not sure I think it is a couple of things. First, I resisted the urge to really tell her all about the band even though I desperately wanted to. I longed to tell her about the reunion and all of the albums and tours since then up until the present day but…I didn’t. Why? One reason is the lack of time that exists on a daily basis at my job. I had to get ready for my next class. On top of that, I knew that if I started talking Duran, I wouldn’t be able to stop. After all, I have a lot to say about the band and being a fan of theirs. I know that sometimes my intensity gets to be too much. While I love sharing all I know, others, even fans, might not. I recognize that.
The other reason that I felt awkward at this conversation is that the term “fan” didn’t feel right. This isn’t because I’m ashamed of my fan status or that I worried about the stigma connected with the term. No, it was the exact opposite. Fan felt inadequate. I’m a fan of Reese peanut butter eggs and wearing jeans. My connection to Duran Duran feels a lot more than that three letter word. Yes, I’m a fan but it is more than that. I bet a lot of you reading this get what I’m trying to say even if I am being totally inarticulate here. Reading and writing blogs about a band and being a fan of that band means that you are more than just a fan but a serious one, a hardcore one. That is really what I wanted to say. I wanted to say, “Heck yes, I’m a fan. I’m a huge Duranie. I have seen them live more than fifty times and hope to get at least one hundred times more. I love them so much that I have a blog about being a fan. In fact, my friend and I who write the blog post pretty much each and every day. We are that dedicated (or insane–depending on how you look at it.) If you love the band as much as I do, then I would love to share what they have been up to for the last decade or so. I think you will fall in love with them all over again.” But I didn’t say any of that. It would have felt too personal. It is like this random person would know too much about me and what I love.
My name is Rhonda and I do not write fiction. (Sorry Heather, I just couldn’t resist that opening line!) Unlike Heather, and my other good friend that I’m about to introduce, I really cannot spin a good fantasy tale. I can’t put words together to tell a story, and I really cannot use words to fully explain what is going on in my head. (that might be a sign that the world just doesn’t need to know what’s going on in there!) I stand in complete awe of people who can create entire new worlds, characters, plot lines and novels that are so real in their imaginations that they become real for readers. It’s fascinating to me that within this fan community I have run into more published authors than I did the entire time I was in college. The creative “gene” runs very, very thick in this extended family of ours, and I’m proud to be able to support the brilliant creative geniuses amongst us.
If you’re a Duranie that enjoys a good book and you haven’t checked out Bring Me Back by Karen Booth yet; first of all I have to wonder why you’re taking the time to read this blog when you could be diving into THAT – but secondly I need to ask if you’ve been living under a rock? Do yourself a favor: grab the book. Sit down and read it in one sitting. It is the fantasy of all fantasies, whether you’re a Duran fan or a fan of any other musician out there. But after you’re finished with that book – and I know you won’t be completely sated, because no Duranie worth her salt is EVER completely sated – you should pick up THE SEQUEL. (and if that’s not enough, there’s even a prequel named Claire’s Diary that you should absolutely read – you might even recognize yourself in there, I know I did!)
Yes, you read that right. One book about a rock star is never enough, so why not read two? My good friend Karen Booth brings Christopher Penman and Claire Abby together again for Back Forever, and readers are in for a great treat as they tuck into this novel. Bring Me Back answers the question of what might happen if a once-upon-a-time teen fan met the rock star of her dreams twenty years later; Back Forever answers the question of what might happen next.
So it is with great pleasure that I welcome Karen Booth back to the blog today, where I plan to pummel her with questions about writing, life, and even being a fan. If that weren’t enough, I even had the nerve to ask if I could interview Christopher Penman (cue squeeing from the Penman fans out there) and Claire Abby in a blog I will be posting tomorrow because let’s face it: it’s the closest I’m going to get to interviewing an international rock star. (No offense Dom…but this IS Christopher Penman I’m writing about here.)
There are really few people on the planet that I value the opinion of more than Karen. She’s smart, she gets the whole fan-thing (likely because she’s been on both sides: in a previous life – aka before she became a fiction writer, she worked in the music industry!), and she doesn’t judge me for writing a blog about being a fan of a rock band…and I still blush when I read her romantica novellas. So we’re a good pair. I like to think of Karen as the person I could be if I were at all brave, and to me, writing a sequel to Bring Me Back is pretty darn brave. Knowing myself, I’d be thrilled to finish ONE book, much less dare to write another – and yet there Karen goes, writing a sequel.
“More than anything, I wanted to find out what would happen to Christopher and Claire. Believe it or not, an author doesn’t always automatically know these things. Once Bring Me Back started to reach readers and they responded with questions of what happens next, I knew I had to write one. ”
I think this must be what is meant when it is said that the best writers allow the story the room to breathe on it’s own. The characters have a life of their own, and they become real. So how do you end that relationship then? Is it tough to say goodbye and know you’ve finished that story?
“This is a tough one! It’s really tempting to give in, especially when people want more, but the truth is that I don’t have a clear vision of what’s next for them. That doesn’t mean I never will, only that I don’t see it right now. As far as missing them goes, I miss them terribly. Some aspects of finishing this book felt like a goodbye, which was heartbreaking. The connection I have with Chris and Claire is very real. They are not characters to me, they’re real people, which might sound crazy, but it’s true.”
Having never written fiction, I don’t have any idea what it is like to know when a story is really and truly finished. I’ve read Harry Potter and I still find myself wondering what could possibly come next. I suppose the real test is knowing whether or not there really is actually a story to tell. It would seem to me, even as a reader, there has to be a sense of closure or else it will never feel finished…which leads me to ask, is there anything that you would change now that it’s all said and done and published, or do you feel that you have to just put it down, walk away and move on?
“A lot of writers would say that no book is ever truly finished and I definitely put myself in that category. I could revise until I’m blue in the face, but you have to find a way to let go. For me, it comes when I can read it beginning to end and experience a full range of emotions and most importantly, have a smile on my face when I read “The End”. There might be individual words or sentences I would change, but nothing about the meat of the story.”
As a devoted reader of Bring Me Back, when I first heard that you were writing a sequel, I nearly frothed at the mouth in wonder as to what direction the story would take. I think that many fans, regardless of whether it is a musician like John Taylor or an actor like Benedict Cumberbatch, want that complete fairy tale. We all want that “Happily Ever After”, riding off into the sunset with a guitar (or a bass) playing…and never a cross-moment following. The trouble of course is that real life doesn’t work that way. “Happily Ever After” is mixed in with a whole lot of well, less-than-fun times…and let’s be honest, if it was all roses and champagne without a little friction, the tale would get boring very, very fast, no matter how much I’d love to say otherwise. So I wondered how you would continue Chris and Claire’s story. What gave you the most challenge?
“Writing a sequel was so much harder than I thought it would be. The biggest challenge was deciding how to include Christopher’s point-of-view. You don’t get that in the first book and I knew that I wanted to spend some time digging around in that mind of his. I tried writing ‘Back Forever’ in third-person, which is the universally accepted way to handle two points-of-view, but it felt off because it was so out of step with the first book. I ultimately went with a two-character first-person point-of-view, which is a little unusual. So far, everyone’s embraced it quite well. “
I know that when I read the book, I was delightfully surprised by just how normal their story really did read. That isn’t to say that there wasn’t an element of fairy-tale fantasy, because in my opinion that’s what makes a good love story, but there was plenty of “real life” going on.
“I still feel like the new book explores the same concept as the first—how do you take a fairytale and make it real? Despite the very real-life, non-glamorous situations facing Christopher and Claire in this book, they’re still living a fairytale. They’ve both waited a lifetime to find each other, their work lives are far more exciting than for most people. The reader is still immersed in a fantasy at times—it’s just wedged into reality. “
Blogging is definitely not the same as writing a book. Over time, I’ve gotten away from feeling as though the blog is my shared private journal (which is both good and bad), but I continue to learn and take lessons from both the process of my writing as well as the comments we’ve received over the years. On a personal note, that has been the singularly most unexpected and rewarding side-path on this journey for me. I’m wondering if you’ve found the same – a lesson learned – from writing the sequel?
“It’s funny—I feel like I’m just now seeing the gift that the sequel is. It was really difficult to write. It didn’t spill out of me like the first book did, but the reaction to it has been so rewarding. I questioned myself so much with this story, which I can now see was a good thing. Sometimes you have to tear yourself apart to get to the essence of what you hope to achieve. I suppose that’s the lesson I took from this book. ”
That is a perfect lesson to take away, and one that I won’t forget. I feel very much the same with this blog as of late, so thank you for putting it into words. I don’t think it is too much of a secret that I’ve gone through a continual catharsis as I’ve blogged, and lately I’ve taken a huge step back away from this blog altogether. I needed to gain perspective, and I’m not ashamed of that. Every day I put a little bit of myself on display here for the world at large to pick apart, and it’s no secret that I have trouble with the constant criticism. I have a tough time letting it roll off my back. I wonder how you handle bad reviews as an author…does it ever get easier?
“Every author gets poor reviews! One person on Amazon gave Bring Me Back two stars and titled the review, “No depth”. Just stab me in the heart, why don’t you? I wanted to write this person and explain that I spent months at my desk crying my eyes out when I wrote the book, that she wasn’t looking very hard if she couldn’t see the emotion. Then I took a deep breath and remembered one great piece of advice a friend gave me—it’s just someone’s opinion. There is no way to satisfy everyone. So, I handle poor reviews by reading them and promptly doing everything I can to forget them. “
I probably should bookmark, print, and cross stitch that last sentence and hang it on my wall for future reference. Duranies are a tough crowd. They are hard to please, slow to forgive unless you’re a band member, and extremely critical of one another…but they’re the most creative bunch I’ve ever crossed paths with. Nearly every single published author I know personally is a self-pronounced Duranie at heart and they follow the band as closely as I do. I know fans who have gone from doing fanzines and/or trading posters with friends back in the 80’s to huge careers in the magazine, publishing and PR world. It is stunning to see so many creative fans amongst us. How did we all gather in the same place?!?
“There’s no question that Duran attracts a wide variety of talented, creative, vibrant people as fans. No dullards like Duran Duran! (Yes, I know, the 1950s called and they want their insult back.) I think it’s the whole art school approach the band began with—a sense of collective creativity, something I think is still at the core of what they do. It attracts people who approach life with an open mind. Those people are always the most creative because they see beauty and possibilities all around them. ”
So that brings me to my last question for you, Karen. Do you have any advice for the non-published out there?
“It would go the same no matter where your creative interests lie—keep creating, explore crazy ideas, don’t be afraid to do things that make you really nervous. The art is well outside your comfort zone, not in it, and focusing on what you create is the most important part. You can stumble through the rest of it with sheer perseverance.”
I just want to thank Karen for being such a great supporter of this blog and of our vision for Durandemonium. As much as she thinks we’re helping her out, she continually returns the favor. Thank you.
And to the rest of you, grab your copy of Back Forever and get reading!!
Want links to buy Karen’s books? See below!
Other books by Karen Booth as well as a free downloadable copy of Claire’s Diary can be found at Karen’s website: www.karenbooth.net
I don’t think it’s going to come as a big surprise to anyone who has read the blog…or knows me personally…that I have a bit of an issue with patience.
I like things to happen on time. I don’t like waiting, and being kept waiting is even worse. My kids know that if I ask them to do something once…they’d better get moving because if I have to ask again, trouble is coming. Nobody wants trouble, trust me.
So, when I say that I hate Durantime, it is from this vein that the emotion arises. (Yes, you probably should feel sorry for my children.) HOWEVER, I also very much believe my impatience, is substantiated in this case. I will reference a brief conversation I had with my dear blogging partner last night. I’m paraphrasing because there was a lot more being discussed than just this one thing…but you’ll get the point:
R: So I argued with someone about Durantime, because I dared to say that I think it sucks.
A: AYNIN WAS shorter. They toured (did a few dates) in Summer of 2009. It wasn’t a full tour, but we did see two dates. (Las Vegas and Costa Mesa, in case you’re wondering as you read this…) Then in December of 2010, they released All You Need is Now (single). That is 16 months from the final show that we saw (Amanda and Rhonda) to single. It has now been 17 months with virtually NO end in sight.
Let’s all take a deep, dejected sigh, shall we? Do it right now.
Go ahead and argue with Amanda about her dates. I know better (and she’s right on this one anyway). So while I would agree that this is all part of the process and they need to take their time to get it done the way they want – I’m really not asking them to rush, I swear I’m not! There IS a reason why I’m beginning to feel antsy. Even better? It’s OK that I’m starting and maybe YOU are starting to feel that way. (Although truth be told I was feeling antsy last May….but even I know when I’m being unreasonable!)
All of that aside, I’ve been thinking to myself as to why it feels so much longer this time, and for me, it really does feel like forever since we last heard great things from them, much less saw them in person at a show or even on TV. I made the comment yesterday that I don’t know how I survived before FB and Twitter… but when I think back to the years between Red Carpet Massacre and All You Need is Now, I recognize a few things:
1. I was not in love with RCM, and so for me personally, I think I was almost dreading the next album, assuming that it would be more of the same. I can remember hearing who was producing AYNIN and getting bits and pieces out of the studio, all the while wondering if I’d dislike it as much as I did RCM. I was interested, but a little worried all the same.
2. Amanda and I spent many, many hours writing the beginnings of our manuscript during that downtime between albums. We didn’t start Daily Duranie until September of 2010, so our extra time was spent writing. We were living in our own bubble of Duran, so to speak.
3. On a personal note, I had a toddler in my house back then. Duran who??
4. I never even had the smallest hope of seeing the band on Facebook or Twitter, much less tweeting to them and getting a response of any kind – vague or pointed, retweet or “I’ll answer you directly but I won’t use your name so as not to draw unneeded attention”. <insert smile here> So, it didn’t occur to me to miss what I never had.
Of course, it wasn’t long after we started the blog that John Taylor joined Twitter. He made the wait fun, as did Simon – who I’m not intentionally ignoring here, it’s just that he’d already joined Twitter many months prior (even if he didn’t use the account very regularly). Then Roger joined on Facebook and for a while, he even participated. Where IS that drummer these days, anyway?? The more I heard about the album, the more anxious I became..and of course I was excited at the possibility of seeing the band again too. I don’t honestly know when Dom joined Twitter, but I loved seeing all of them tweet. It felt like they actually wanted to talk with all of us, see what made us tick and get an overall feeling for what was going on. It made the wait fun. More importantly, it created a bridge between the fans and the band – something we’d never had before.
Naturally, we all get involved in things and can’t make our way to socialize every day. (Although I usually do… but you know, that’s part of the deal with blogging, and it’s part of my personality at this point. It’s the only way I can actually talk to my true friends, the ones I really care about…so I make the time.) I probably should spend less time on Twitter and updating FB so that I can finish the various pieces to the publishing proposals…. Maybe the band is similar in that they really have to remove themselves from the world in order to get work done…I don’t know. This blog really isn’t a statement of whether they should be on Twitter, or whether they should be engaging fans, or just sending me emails for that matter. HA! However, this post is a simple statement of my impatience, and the fact is – we all miss them, whether it is that we miss shows, new music, promotional appearances, tweets and posts, or all of the above.
If I could talk to any of them – and as is typical I must make the statement that I highly doubt any of them are actually reading my mindless drivel – but I digress. If I could actually speak to them, I’d tell them that while I know among the most asked questions is “When is the album going to be finished?” and that has to be incredibly annoying, I hope they can see that they’re actually MISSED. I know my counterpart never loved having John on Twitter because of any number of reasons that I won’t go into here. I, on the other hand, did. It wasn’t necessarily because I traded messages with the guy – he didn’t respond to me any more than anyone else, and many times I came online well after one of his much beloved “Tweet-fests” anyway and missed them…but the point was I loved just seeing a teensy snippet about THEM as people. I don’t know how to better articulate that. I know their music. I see their videos, read their interviews, etc, etc. But back when John tweeted, and even when he would occasionally post things on Instagram – it was kind of like getting a glimmer of him as a real person. That’s cool.
While my personal favorite band member hardly ever tweets these days (I’m looking directly at you, Dom.) – the one thing I do like about his tweets is that they’re rarely about music or the band. He’ll post what he’s watching on TV (Game of Thrones though? Really?? How about Sherlock?!?) or he’ll just mention that he’s out with his family doing whatever it is that they’re doing at the time. It’s not like I need or want to know when he’s going to go brush his teeth – but in some basic way it is as though we’re (collectively – the fans) communicating with him as though he’s a normal person, not just a guitar player for Duran Duran. It makes him more real.
No, I don’t really need to know when the album is going to be finished and they’ll be back on the road…I guess…but it’s also kind of nice to just be like normal people. Almost like friends, except that we’re not really going to meet for coffee or speak because there’s some weird unspoken “You’re a fan, I’m a rock star” deal. So bizarre.
I’m WAY over my allotted word count for the day (week!), so I’m going to go back to being unsatisfied and impatient, and you all can go back to whatever it is you spend your time doing each day. I’ll catch ya all on Twitter or Facebook….well, everyone ‘cept the band I suppose….hope the studio doesn’t swallow ’em whole!
(Yes Amanda, I really did use words from Come Undone to title this.)
Every now and then I read something from a fellow fan on Twitter that cracks me up.
The other day I was on Twitter, and a dear, kind-hearted fan posted that he/she was on a serious campaign to get the band to do a fan-cruise. Yes, you did read that correctly. He/she wanted to know my thoughts, and then they kindly asked if I’d be willing to start using a hashtag for a DD cruise to get the idea trending.
Now I’m sure there are many fans out there who believe, in their kind little Duranie hearts, that the band would love for nothing more than to spend an extended weekend with an entire cruise ship filled with Duranies. I mean, we are fun people, right?!? But then again, those who have been around for any length of time know what it can be like when the band is around. (What I wouldn’t GIVE for a good photo of two girls ripping each others hair out to get new John Taylor right now… Ok, here’s what we’re going to do: envision Sing Blue Silver and the rush that takes place when they open the doors to the arena. Don’t remember? Go get your DVD and watch it!)
The fact is, and I really hate using this word to describe my fandom – but we’re just a little on the overwhelming side. Yes, I’m aware we’re all adults now. Yes, I know that we should have outgrown this fascination and fantasy that we could end up with one of them as our forever mate. Yes, I know they’re all either married or involved. The question is – has any of that really stopped us?
I think we all know the answer to that. There’s really no need to embarrass ourselves by posting the answer. *winks*
However, even with all of that aside. Would the band really consider a cruise? I have trouble even asking that question without laughing. As someone reminded me – the band IS known for yachts and champagne. Yes, yes, I am well-aware. A yacht and a cruise ship are very, very different things. Somehow, I just don’t see Nick boarding a neon-glitzed cruise ship, ready for several days of chatting it up with fans, a few rounds of bingo and maybe hitting the buffet. Call me crazy. I can’t imagine Simon putting up with ANY of us for very long without being under the influence of copious amounts of alcohol (perhaps that’s the point?). Never mind poor John – I don’t think he’d ever leave his stateroom or balcony for fear of actually running into a screaming crowd of us in one of the narrow ship hallways. Roger – well, Roger might be found tanning on an upper deck, but he’d always have to be on the lookout for John hiding behind a planter, ready to take Instagram photos at any given moment. Funny, I could see Dom going along with the idea, but only because he has no idea what he’d be in for. (I almost feel sorry for him. Almost.)
As much as Duran Duran is known for being the jet-setting, champagne-consuming, supermodels and sunshine type of band the media and their branding has made them out to be over the years – the difference is that they don’t typically do these things with fans. Those that have seen those inner-workings are among the prized few. And, I would argue there is something about the fact that they’ve always been a little elitist and a bit removed from us common folk, that we secretly like. Maybe it’s a love/hate sort of relationship. We hate that they spent so much time portraying themselves as being above us when we were younger, to a lesser extent I think they still try for that image now, but in some respects, we love it. We love the chase. We romanticize the idea that if they’re really the elite and they’re noticing us…well…that’s gotta mean something, right? Self-esteem boost, here we come!!
Otherwise, what’re we all still doing here?? Is it really just about the music? Maybe for some, but for everyone? Give me a break. I SEE the Facebook groups we’ve been invited to join, guys. It’s not just the music between us. Sometimes it’s a little girl panic, too.
So, while I might be willing to board a cruise ship with my friends for a weekend of girl fun, I’m not expecting to run into Nick at the buffet, Simon at the art auction, Roger on deck, or John pretty much anywhere on the ship. (Yes, I know I’m leaving out Dom. Truth be told – I think he’d go even AFTER my warnings. Silly man.)
It has been a rough 24 hours in my household, and I’m pretty exhausted for it to only be nearly 9am on a Tuesday. Yesterday, my family and I had to make the difficult decision to put one of our cats down. His name was Smokey, and he was a grey tabby. We knew something was wrong when we came home from vacation – Smokey had grown extremely thin in the two weeks we had been gone, and we just assumed that perhaps he’d stopped eating. My mom had come to see the cats every day for us, and at some point she did notice that Smokey wasn’t coming downstairs, but I don’t think she really recognized that he wasn’t eating at all. When we got home, I tried to fatten the poor guy back up again with regularly timed meals, taking food right to where ever he was and insisting he eat and drink. The trouble is, whatever had gone wrong already had done plenty of damage, and we didn’t know how bad it really was. He did seem to begin perking up, but then last week he seemed to turn right back again, and on Monday night, he stopped responding to his name, and decided to make his new home in a corner of our downstairs bathroom (a very odd spot). So we took him to the vet, and by then – Smokey was actually jaundiced (yellow), and the vet knew right away he was in liver failure. We have surmised along with the vet that Smokey must have starved himself in our absence, and when cats do that, they risk using up their fat storage. Their livers don’t do well with that, and they don’t bounce back easily. I feel horrible, just beyond horrible, but we had to do what was best. Try explaining that to a five year old, who is now convinced we killed our cat, not to mention my own guilt, because this entire scenario did not have to happen. Compound that with the fact that yesterday was the one-year anniversary of my friend Laurie’s death, and well – it made for a really crummy day.
I don’t know how other moms do it, but I always feel like I’m trying to juggle 50,000 balls, and quite frankly – I am not a very good juggler. I do my best, but it always feels like when I’m paying attention to one thing, something else falls down. It’s not as though I didn’t see that Smokey wasn’t feeling well, but I felt that I was handling that – and since he was eating and drinking, I believed that it would all take care of itself. Never mind that while we were gone on vacation, I had my mom watching them for at least part of the day here. I thought I had it covered. I didn’t.
Guilt is something that I tend to experience quite a bit. I am not sure if other moms are like that, but I’m having a tough time with it right now. I suppose partially, this was brought upon myself from the very moment I decided that I was going to have children and be a stay-at-home mom, because now – it is what is expected. I don’t know where along the line I unknowingly gave up the right to my own interests and career plans, but since I have changed that directive for myself, I’ve had difficulties in justifying (to myself and others) the things I’m working on. If I’m working on writing the book, I feel like I should have been playing with my youngest. If I take time to catch up on reading – even if it’s for the blog or something else – I know in the back of my mind that I should have been getting lessons ready for my son. If I’m working on school things for my son, I should have been cleaning my house. If I dare consider going on a trip for myself, whether it’s to see the band with friends, to visit a friend, or even something that I consider work-related, I’m reminded that my kids need me and that it’s wrong to expect to be able to do something for myself. My mom is always the first to point out that my children deserve the absolute best of me, and that whenever I split my time – I’m failing them. It’s not a fair argument, and since she is my mom – she knows exactly what to say. My mom worked when I was a kid, but I think part of the problem is that my mom does not consider my book, this blog, or anything else I do to actually be work. To her it’s all fun and games, and she openly rolls her eyes when the subject comes up. It’s never easy, and I find myself pushing the ever-present guilt to the back of my mind. I’m sure I’m not the only adult out there with judgmental people in their lives who are ready and willing to point out shortcomings, failures, and points to improve – it just makes the journey arduous, and often I find myself second-guessing my own choices. Yesterday did not help.
I really don’t know how this relates to the band, other than the fact that I’m planning a convention for Duran Duran fans in October, our book – which seems to always be put on the back burner for later – is at least in part about Duran Duran fans, and the career that I am trying to carve out for myself was inspired by my fandom. It’s a juggling act, and to assume that because I don’t work outside of my home that I must have all the time in the world to do everything simply isn’t true. There’s always something that ends up on the floor because it’s been dropped or forgotten. (You should see my white board wall calendar!!) So many of my friends mention that they don’t know how I do it all. It’s easy: I don’t. A lot of things get pushed aside. I’ve learned to accept that my entire house will never be clean all at the same time. My car goes without being washed from time to time…(Ok, a lot of the time) I usually do well with the important things, but there is a very long list of low priority items that just get picked up whenever I have extra time – which isn’t often.
I will miss my Smokey-boy. I never sat still long enough for him to truly snuggle in, but we tried. I feel like I failed him in a lot of ways, but I’m glad he’s not continuing to suffer.
Each day, for those of you not following us on twitter or are not friends with us on facebook, we ask a question that we hope fans will answer. Obviously, this question relates to the band in some way. Currently, we are doing brackets on the songs. We are going album-by-album and song-by-song until we get a winner from each album. Right now, we are on Pop Trash. Yesterday, I said to Rhonda, “I can’t wait until we get done with Pop Trash.” Why? The simple reason is that I don’t like it much. Before I get hate mail about that, it isn’t that I don’t like some songs because I do, but it just doesn’t inspire me or cause a big reaction of excitement. What is interesting to me is that lately I have seen many other fans saying the same thing about a particular song or album. Then, they almost always follow it up with, “Does that make me a bad fan?” I don’t think so.
What is a fan? In my definition, a fan is not someone who likes everything the idol(s) does. Yet, I have people who respond to the daily question about song preference by saying, “both”. Yes, you can like both songs. I often do but I am asking people to choose which one people like MORE. I also have people who say, “neither.” I can understand that. I am a Duranie or a Duran Duran fan. What that means to me that is I like the music and the band, generally. Yes, they are my favorite band. Thus, I think that when they get it right, musically or otherwise, they REALLY get it right. Yes, it also means that I generally think they get it right more often than not. That said, like the person who always answers with “neither” or the fan who wonders if they need to turn in their Duranie card because s/he does not like a particular song, I, too, have Duran songs that I don’t really like. In fact, and I know this might be shocking but there are songs of theirs that I hope I never hear again. We all know that Rhonda would be happy never hearing that song involving an animalistic need for food. Can you guess which song it is for me? Some of you might since I have mentioned it before, but I bet the rest of you will be shocked.
Come Undone. I cannot stand that song. Now, I didn’t initially hate the song. I didn’t. Probably, at one time, I might have even said that I liked it. There are other songs that I instantly didn’t like *coughZoomIncough* but this one grew to annoy me, then grew to go beyond annoyance. Why does it bother me? First, I have to hear it at practically every dang concert I go to. Although, if the band would ever read this (yeah, right…), I SO appreciated that I didn’t have to put up with it at the Atlanta show this past August. That almost made the show for me right there! What is my problem with hearing it live? It is BORING. Now, remember that I focus much of my show on a certain bass player. He doesn’t move much during that song. Neither does anyone else. There is no JoSi or DoJo. The stage is typically set in a green light and everyone just plays or sings. Boring. No interaction with the crowd. Nothing. Then, of course, there is that horrible, cringe-worthy moment when Simon decides that it is a good idea to lick his fingers. *shudders* Yeah, not my thing. Then, again, I’m not a Simon fan. If I was, I might think it was cool or hot but I’m not. Second, musically and lyrically, it just doesn’t do it for me. I know that technically there is nothing wrong with the song, but I still don’t like it. Lastly, it seems that it is overrated among the fans. Everyone loves it or so it seems. Everyone thinks it is so great. Maybe, part of my problem is this album, in general for me. I saw the band live for the first time during this era. I went to the show with a few friends and had a good time. Afterwards, though, I distinctly remember telling my friend that something was off with the band and that they should think about breaking up. Seriously. I couldn’t give any reason to that statement then other than it was a feeling to me. Obviously, I’m glad that they didn’t retire then and yes, I’m glad that this album brought them success. It just didn’t do it for me. I don’t know why. It isn’t bad but it didn’t wow me the way I wanted. It still doesn’t.
What is my point in telling you all this? I like to think that I’m a pretty dedicated Duranie. I write a blog, do a daily question, write today in Duran history each day, etc. Yet, I still have songs that aren’t my favorite. I have songs that I hope I never hear again and I don’t think that makes me a bad fan or less of a dedicated fan. It makes me human. A fan does not have to love everything the band does. I look at it this way. I love my nieces, for example, but I don’t always love what they do. They are human and make mistakes. This is how I look at fandom. I will always love Duran but I don’t love every song and every album. In fact, some of them I would be happy to kiss goodbye forever! What about you? What songs do you want to kiss goodbye?
Good morning world! It has been a very long weekend for me and I feel as though I’m just coming out of the hangover haze. This is what happens after a weekend of celebrating the birthday of my youngest with family, friends and 25 (yes, TWENTY FIVE) four and five year olds. My youngest shares her special day with none other than my blogging partner Amanda. I remember calling Amanda from the doctor’s office the day I went in for a normal appointment only to be told that day would be “The Big One”. Happy Birthday Amanda – guess who is going to be sharing their birthday forever more?? Even funnier? They share the same favorite Duran Duran song – Planet Earth. Coincidence??
I was mostly out of reach for the weekend, so I took some time this morning to read the blogs Amanda had written. One particular comment made me stop and think. So much so that it’s turned into my topic for the day.
For me, art of any type is incredibly personal. It reaches me on a soulful level – that is, if it really and truly speaks to my heart. Naturally, not every piece of art achieves that, and conversely what might touch my soul may very well not touch someone else’s. That feeling of connection holds true whether we’re talking about music, visual arts, dance, theater or even writing. That doesn’t mean to say that I can’t admire a drawing that my four year old does with crayon (typically I can’t see much beyond the possible stick figure and perhaps a sun with a smiley face in the background – and that’s on a good day!), nor does it mean that I can’t enjoy listening to a song like Bedroom Toys (For me that song is humorous and cheeky). It’s about the depth of where it all reaches my soul.
The argument of course is that not all music does that – and that doesn’t make the music which does NOT do that any less pertinent. I’m not sure I would agree, but that’s also the point in which I’m trying to make here. It’s personal. The way someone might feel when they hear Rio or using a non-Duran reference here: Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears is almost certainly not the way I might feel when I hear them.
Here’s a short story to elaborate: nearly four years ago now, my father was in a hospital ICU. He was hooked up to a ventilator because his lungs had decidedly stopped working due to a disease called Pulmonary Fibrosis. On the day that my mother, sister and I finally agreed to shut off the machines and allow nature to take it’s course – my son was home sick with the stomach flu, AND I had a not-quite two week old newborn to handle. The only thing I could bring myself to do that day was the laundry (I don’t know why) and watch Greatest by Duran Duran. It was about 1:30pm that day when my mom called to tell me that they’d shut the machines down, and as I hung up the phone – knowing that it could be hours or even days before I’d get the final phone call – I sat down with my baby in my arms and watched Rio over and over again. I don’t even love that video or the song that much! I just couldn’t really do anything else and it was the only thing that took my mind off of what could possibly be happening in that hospital room. Thankfully, it was only about an hour and a half later that my mom called, telling me that my father had passed on peacefully, and I went back to folding laundry – bath towels, actually – as if nothing had happened.
Later on that same month, I stood up in front of close family and friends to deliver my father’s eulogy. Truth be told, I’d been preparing for that moment since we’d gotten his diagnosis three and a half years prior. My father, who was never devoid his sense of humor – insisted that I play the song Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears. It was the one song by the one band I liked that he would allow to be played in his beloved motor home as we would go on vacations when I was a teenager. He felt so strongly about this that he would openly and humorously threaten to haunt me if I didn’t play the song for him at his funeral. When I heard that song long after I’d grown up but before his diagnosis, I’d picture us lumbering down the road in that motor home, and there was a sense of comfort that came along with the song. Now, my dad wanted me to play the song to send him off in a completely different way. Tears for Fears is probably one of my most beloved bands after Duran Duran. Sadly, after that day of playing that song at his service, that song no longer holds the same memory, but rather is a painful reminder of all that I’ve lost, and trust me – my dad is a big loss. We were incredibly close. Those feelings are intensely personal.
Yes, art and specifically music are intensely personal. After years of wondering why it is that all of us act so crazily at times by the least little bit of news we might receive regarding the band, for instance news of who they might be working with to produce an album, or a specific musical direction they might be taking on a particular song right down to the setlist choices for a tour, I think I finally understand why. When you feel that deep-seated connection with something, there is a certain amount of feeling as though you own it. I don’t mean that in the literal sense, although I think sometimes we get confused by the definition of “own, it’s just that it’s so personal you can’t really draw a line between yourself and the creator(s) of such things. That’s how I feel about Duran Duran at times. They’ve been the soundtrack of my entire life. My highest moments, and the lowest of lows. Hell, they’ve been in the background even when it was the last thing I wanted to hear. (Hence that moment of coming back to consciousness after I’d flatlined when I had my youngest only to hear Hungry Like the Wolf in the background) It’s hard to think of my own history without feeling intertwined with theirs. There are times when words fail me, and other times when I think I’ve gotten it as right as rain. Last week I wrote a blog for andytaylor.tv which you should read here. If you don’t feel like I’ve gotten it all – everything you would say to the band (or any band) if you could – I encourage you to add your own.
I suppose that is why, when a band or even when an artist change their direction, it enlists a response from their audience. There have been many, many times in history when a painter changed their artistic direction and it’s drawn anger and criticism well-beyond what I would have considered to be expected. Picasso is one example. People during that time preferred the days before his cubist style, and when he incorporated that style into his paintings of female figures – basically mutilating and destroying their form, crowds become enraged. It was not only due to how he was painting, but rather because of the artistic journey he’d taken from what the public felt was his norm. The same could be said for Duran Duran over the years. The response that many fans had to Red Carpet Massacre was one of anger and even sadness. Many fans felt that this was a slap in the face to long time fans. Still others felt that the band had sold out in order to create a hit. Whether those things are in fact true or not is not the point. Fans felt enough of a connection over their previous style(s) of music that it went beyond just being “a song” or “an album”. To those people, it was a part of their lives. It’s like being a long term bus rider on a specific route, and then getting to that same bus stop one day just in time to see the bus shut it’s doors and pull away, leaving you behind. On one hand, I agree that when we start going around taking more ownership of something than we should it seems pretty silly. I also agree that artists should be allowed to expand their horizons and explore as many directions and avenues as they wish. On the other, to try and lessen the impact that art makes on people by saying “it’s just music” is almost demeaning the artist. As with just about anything, there’s a fine line and while not all music touches each of us on a deep level – I think of the band Weezer and how their music is just fun, tongue-in-cheek music for me, yet for their hard core fans it’s much different. Recently their own fan community took up a donation in order to get the band to simply quit making music because the fans felt so strongly about the musical direction the band had recently taken – ALL art reaches someone deeply. Isn’t that why we participate?
An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!